President Hakainde Hichilema has denied meeting former Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) liquidator Milingo Lungu recently to negotiate his exit from the mining giant.
According to a petition Mr. Lungu has filed before Constitutional Court against the State and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC), the alleged meeting was meant to discuss how Mr Lungu can vacate his office in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution and the return of his seized assets as they were legitimately earned.
But during his Press Conference at State House on Monday, President Hichilema said he has neither power nor right to give someone immunity from prosecution.
The Republic President said he has not met Milingo recently except soon after assuming office when getting a report from the former KCM Provisional Liquidator on the operations of the firm.
“No one has the legal mandate to give immunity to anybody. I cannot do that, no one at the State House, no one at ACC can do that. No one at the DPP can give immunity to anyone that is illegal. There is no law that allows that to happen. So if you are a clique of thieves and you think you can escape by abusing office bearers of institutions you have got it wrong. If you are a brother to HH and you stole from the people of Zambia HH will not help you. Even though he is a servant as President. I will not help you so don’t even try. So why are we debating a non issue? Because this is a non issue,” Mr. Hichilema said.
Mr. Milingo has since requested the Lusaka High Court to compel the DEC to uphold the immunity from prosecution granted by the DPP on matters related to his role as Provisional Liquidator of Konkola Copper Mines.
The Head of State branded the debate on whether or not Milingo negotiated his exit from KCM with the Government as trivial.
“No presidential assistance can give impunity to anybody. No Minister of Justice, no Attorney General, no Solicitor General, no DPP. Anything done along that line is a nullity. I never met anybody in this State House in the name of Milling (Lungu) to discuss immunity. We are to deal with the immunity issue; there is no immunity for anywhere. And the social media ran it, one of the colleagues sent me a message that HH you gave immunity to Milingo and I said no. I have no capacity to do that but the nation fed on this thing and it became the most important thing instead of fighting to create more jobs for the people of Zambia,” President Hichilema said.
President Hichilema further expressed his fury over Director of Public Prosecutions Lillian Siyuni’s decision to oppose the re-arrest of Mr. Lungu.
“First, I commented on this issue in a lengthy area. No one has a legal right to offer immunity to anybody. Not the DPP, she has no legal right. She hasn’t got let’s not abuse judicial processes here. She has no right. I said it. I am re-enforcing the point. I don’t like kidding around myself. I don’t kid around. Sometimes study the leaders you have chosen. Go back and look at this fellow called HH. I don’t play around with myself. I may not make much noise because in this country noise is supposed to be equivalent to ability. What should happen is that the law is clear here. If the DPP has transgressed her rights, you complain to the Judicial Complaints Commission and I think people have done that already if not more will be doing that. That is the law and then from there it will take its course,” Mr. Hichilema said.
The Head of State further okayed the advocacy by UPND cadres that the DPP resigns over the Milingo controversy.
“What a member UPND says is what any Zambian can say. Remember those UPND cadres are citizens. There are people already warning the UPND ‘don’t touch the DPP’. You haven’t heard that? There are people saying that, so that talk is equalised by the UPND cadres if it is true. So there is talk positive, talk negative but our duty is not to listen to those who are saying don’t touch the DPP. No one is going to touch the DPP, only the law will touch the DPP, the law that you put in place,” Mr. Hichilema said.
President Hichilema added:”So we will not listen to those people whether it’s civil society or it is anyone or the relatives of the DPP. It does not matter what you feel. It does not matter what the UPND members feel, they are citizens of Zambia they have freedom of speech but what matters to us is to follow the law. Anyone aggrieved about the conduct of the DPP is to complain to the Judicial Complaints Commission. I am sure many Zambians are going to do that (complain to the Judicial Complaints Commission) because what we have seen in the last 30 days is unacceptable, is not correct.”
“The DPP has no power to arrest. The DPP has the power to prosecute. That is the separation of powers. How can she stop people from arresting others? DEC has a right to arrest so is ACC so are the police. She has no power over the police and the DPP cannot tell the DEC doesn’t arrest Milingo. The DEC can arrest Milingo if they feel Milingo has broken the law. They can arrest Milingo 20 times if he has broken the law 20 times and I encourage them to do so. The DPP has no right to say don’t arrest Milingo. Who is she? Where has she drawn her powers from? She wrote a letter for Mary Chirwa (DEC boss) not to arrest Milingo. That is wrong. Somebody must complain, I am encouraging somebody to complain to the Judicial Complaints Commission. That is not victimisation,” President Hichilema said.